Donald Trump’s hair reportedly turned orange by a Just for Men hair product. This is probably a serious thing to Trump but less so to the rest of us. But there a real concern about these Just for Men products. An increasing number of men are reporting severe allergic reactions to “Just For Men” hair and beard products. The reactions include burning, difficulty breathing, dizziness, faintness, hives, rash, redness, scarring, and swelling. The reactions are being reported not just by new users, but also by long-time users who had previously never experienced any problems. The reactions are so severe that some users had to go to the emergency room, or even be hospitalized. Many users needed antibiotics and steroids to treat the reactions.
The “Just For Men” website tells users to always first do a patch test before using the product: “Always do a simple skin allergy (alert) test 48 hours before you use your Just For Men product. Do the patch test on the inside bend of your elbow each and every time.” The products include a similar warning.
The culprit appears to be p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), a dye derived from coal tar that helps color hair. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists PPD as a contact allergen. It was voted “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2006, a finding that was published in the journal Dermatitis. Its allergic nature was subsequently confirmed by a 10-year review of the allergen in 2011 that was also published in Dermatitis. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says that PPD can cause “intense skin irritation and blisters.”
Race May Matter
Over the past decade, Just for Men launched a targeted marketing campaign to induce African American males to purchase their products. Walt Frazier uses it and he looks great so it will work on you too. One lawsuit argues that this racially motivated advertising was done even though the company knew that Just For Men Jet Black color shade intended for African American consumers contained 17 times more p-Phenylenediarnine (“PPD”). Also, the claim alleges the sensitization rate to PPD is five times greater for African American males than white males. In spite of this risk, , the company did not warn that African-American males had a greater likelihood of an injury using these products.
Are These Just for Men Claims Viable?
The short answer is I do not know if these Just for Men lawsuits will stick. There need to be enough cases to make it work. Plaintiffs tried an MDL for medical monitoring, arguing that patients needed future medical testing to see if they suffered an injury. A federal judge dismissed that claim pretty quickly and, in my opinion, with good reason.
The medical monitoring angle was taken because there are not enough victims. In mass tort products liability cases where must of the injuries are serious but not catastrophic, you need a large number of plaintiffs to make the litigation work. If any of these cases were an auto tort case, they would be fine cases. But it will cost millions of dollars to do discovery in a product liability cases like this. So there needs to be enough cases to make that make sense. Will there be a large volume of these Just for Men allergy claims? At this point, no one knows.